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The Perfect Cola Shelf – According to the Brain

Vrumona

The Perfect Cola Shelf – According to the Brain

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Tom van Bommel

Responsible for this research

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Main question

How Vrumona increased cola sales by over 3% for the entire category

It sounds so simple: organizing the Cola shelf. But those who venture into it soon encounter devilish dilemmas.

Do you place the most popular brands directly next to each other, or is it better to include a private label in between? How do you make sugar-free options intuitively discoverable? How do you distribute different sizes and packaging types?

It is precisely these dilemmas that are crucial for the sales success of the soft drink category, as recent neuromarketing research conducted by Vrumona in collaboration with Unravel Research reveals.

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Why shelf organization cannot be surveyed

Which shelf layout is most effective in lifting the sales of a category? For a long time, retail researchers found it difficult to answer that question.

Of course, you can ask shoppers about their search strategies and shelf preferences. But because purchasing decisions are often made rapidly – in just a few hundred milliseconds our brains have often made the decision – that only scratches the surface.

Shelf processing in the brain

The fact that shelf processing cannot be captured by a questionnaire is evident from the increasing interest in the unconscious side of the decision-making process. These methods fall under the term neuromarketing shelf research.

In this approach, shoppers are no longer asked to reflect on their search and decision-making process afterwards. Instead, biometric techniques are employed to measure that decision-making process while the customer processes the shelf. This involves using Eye Tracking (which measures where the shopper is looking) in combination with brain activity related to emotion and workload (measured with EEG).



These shelf factors were tested

We tested various shelf layouts, varying in dimensions such as brand position and how size and sugar content were clustered. The goal was to discover which layout is the most brain-friendly.

Respondents were shown the different shelf layouts in random order, allowing them to make both targeted and free choices. Eye Tracking and EEG mapped out how the shelves were processed down to the millisecond.

The neuro-shelf test thus mapped out the level of attention, discoverability, and purchase activation for each shelf layout. By comparing these with the current baseline shelf, Vrumona gained insights into the factors that led to category sales maximization. And one factor clearly stood out above the rest.

The position of Coca-Cola and Pepsi is crucial

Cola shoppers are primarily brand-oriented. Compared to layouts that prioritized organization by packaging type or sugar use, brand blocks proved to be the most effective in grabbing the shopper's attention and prompting action.

But brand blocks alone are not enough; the way the brands are positioned relative to each other is crucial. A layout where the cola giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi are positioned directly next to each other does not work optimally. This aligns with broader research, where showing popular brands directly next to each other makes the decision-making process more challenging, leading to more people dropping out and/or spending less. It is more effective to place the private label between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Shelves that followed this rule consistently performed the best in the test.



Follow-up with in-store pilot: over 3%
revenue growth for the entire category

After the research identified the winning shelf layout, it was time to rigorously test it in the store. Following an extensive pilot in 30 Albert Heijn stores where the cola shelf was redesigned, a success formula emerged: over 3% revenue growth in the entire cola category.

Lex Burgerhout, Head of Category Management at Vrumona, calls it a triple win:

 "A win for both the shopper, retailer, and Pepsi."

Do you also want more insights, certainty and sales with neuromarketing?

Take a look into the brain with Unravel

Let's grab a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG and eye tracking to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial.


OUR CLIENTS

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Read more: The Perfect Cola Shelf – According to the Brain

Online eye tracking for the optimal shelf placement

Heineken & RealEye

Online Eye Tracking for the Optimal Shelf Placement of Heineken Silver

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Tom van Bommel

Responsible for this research

Also interested in Neuromarketing? Contact us:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Take a look at our team

Main question

What's the best placement for Heineken Silver to attract attention and increase sales?

Heineken released Heineken Silver, positioning it as a lighter and more premium version of the regular Heineken lager. With the introduction of new products, shelf location in retail is always a point of debate. Will the product be seen on the store shelf?

In order to investigate what placement is best serving, Unravel Research conducts Eye Tracking experiments to test shelf layouts. This shelf layout research maps the attention value and experience of the product before its introduction to the market.

What is the best placement for a specific product?

The best shelf layout depends on the target product. For example: products (slightly below) eye level grab most attention, so every marketeer would like to put his/her target product there.

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But the layout does not only rely on the goal of the product, it also relies on its attributes.

Where do people (un)consciously look when looking for a light beer? Or a premium beer? This is where psychology comes in.

According to the natural expectations, a light item is always expected above a heavy item, or otherwise on the left of it (Sunaga et al., 2016).

The same holds true for premium products. Since budget products are usually placed on the bottom, this automatically creates the expectation of premium products to be placed on top (Chandon et al., 2009).

Left or top?

In both cases, there’s room to argue why it would work. Left placement is usually favorable because of the reading direction of most western countries. On the other hand, top placement has an advantage in that it’s more centered and closer to the 'hot spot'.

In the case of Heineken Silver where both premium and light attributes of the product could contribute to the most intuitive spot in the shelf, what’s better than to put it to the scientific test?

We've used RealEye as our webcam eyetracking technology vendor for this case.

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Online Eye Tracking

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Study Design

We designed different shelf layouts; one condition placed Heineken Silver on top of Heineken Lager, and the other placed Silver on the left of it.

During the experiment, subjects got various search assignments: in the free search they looked around and picked a product they’d like. In the directed search, we investigated the strength of the light and premium attributes of Heineken Silver. This reveals if the optimal location is depending on the search strategy and which one works best for Heineken Silver.



Online versus lab-based eye tracking

During all these search experiments, the eye movements of subjects were recorded. Eye tracking experiments are often conducted in the lab where our high-end eye tracking hardware records eye movements using an infrared light.

For this experiment, we decided to go online. In this case, hundred subjects conducted the experiment at home using their webcam to record the movements of their pupils. Using online eye tracking, it’s easy to gather a lot of subjects in a relatively short amount of time and moreover they may be distributed all over the world.



Although online eye tracking may sacrifice some eye tracking accuracy compared to lab-based eye tracking, online studies are preferred for example when your target audience is located all over the world and the study has to be completed within a short period of time.

To the left, to the left!

Looking at the results, all types of search (looking freely, looking for premium beer or looking for light beer) were showing that Heineken Silver attracted most attention when positioned on the left of Heineken Lager compared to the positioning at the top of the shelf.

When Heineken Silver is primarily marketed as premium beer, it’s best positioned at the left side of the shelf. This side significantly outperforms the top placement when consumers are looking for premium beer.

Meanwhile, when Heineken Silver is primarily marketed as a light beer, it still grabs attention most quickly when positioned on the left. However, the difference between top and left is less pronounced.

Do you also want more insights, certainty and sales with neuromarketing?

Take a look into the brain with Unravel

Let's drink a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG and eye tracking to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial.


Our Clients

We mean business with

Read more: Online eye tracking for the optimal shelf placement

Could Cialdini’s principle of authority be used to soften the perceived feeling of price pain? Neuroscience helps to find out!

Consumentenbond

Cialdini's principle of Authoroty and Price Pain

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Core question

Could Cialdini’s principle of authority be used to soften the perceived feeling of price pain? Neuroscience helps to find out!

Psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini describes different tactics to improve the persuasiveness of communication. Cialdini’s principle of authority can considered useful to influence persuasiveness of websites. This principle increases the value of a product, but how does authority influences this value perception of a consumer? 

Another principle of Cialdini – Social proof – is known to have a lot of influence on consumers’ purchase behavior.

This principle explains that seeing many people use a certain product or service, encourages us to take these products and services into consideration. An example, websites often use this principle by displaying ratings and ‘Most sold’ labels. This concerns equal communication: ratings are generated by other consumers.

On the other hand, a difference in knowledge is expected for authority communications. A professional who promotes the product, or a more objective review website which evaluates products and labels them with labels such as ‘Good choice’ or ‘Best tested’.

Advertising research at Unravel Research shows that commercials starring an authoritarian figure score more positively on average, compared to commercials with just a regular consumer.

The increase of value perception of a product can thus increase sales. Though, the question remains; does the product become more interesting because of the extra value attributed, or does it also influence the experience of the price?

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Does spending money hurts?

The fact that spending money can truly hurts a little bit, originates from a brain scan which showed an activation of the pain area when people are spending money. Which proves that spending money can indeed hurt!

Is a low price really better?

At Unravel Research we measure price perception in the brain, instead of asking the consumer directly. We often see that expressed opinions do not match consumer’s real thoughts. Regarding research on pricing, this can be considered an even more sensitive research subject: consumers always consider cheap products – if explicitly asked – always as better.

What the brain is telling us about pricing

However, consumer’s brains often show us something different. An underpriced product will unconsciously be considered as less valuable. A consumer will make a price-quality trade-off and accordingly assumes that when something is considered too cheap, it will also be of low quality. As the Dutch saying states: Buying cheap is expensive.

Implicit price experience in a consumer’s brain can be measured!

It is therefore of great importance to measure unconscious consumer experience. Neuro research can be used to reveal the unconscious price perception. Using EEG metrics, we measure the consumer’s reaction to the price of a product.

The brain’s perception of price is being measured – among others – by the reaction which is referred to as N400. This is the reaction which fluctuates with the congruence of two concepts. For example, within a sentence but also the fit of the price with a product. The greater the measured reaction the less likely it is that the price fits the product.

Does the authority-label influence the implicit price congruence?

To measure the effect of a product sticker reflecting an authoritarian’s opinion, we showed respondents different products in our research lab. Some products with and some without such a label. We also varied the prices of the products during the trials. Thereafter, we asked respondents to express their explicit rating of the price: is it good, is it too expensive or too cheap?

Brain data showed that products with an authoritarian label scored on average 10% higher on the price-fit ratio compared to products presented without such a label. When products with such a label were presented, the congruence between product and price was higher, independently of the actual price. As a result, more consumers will evaluate the price as acceptable. 

On the other hand, the subjective price ratings did not reflect a difference between the conditions. This showed us that on an explicit level, an authoritarian label will not have any effect on the consumer compared to products which do not have such a label.

‘It should be good then’

This statement is exactly reflects what we often see. People think they are not influenced by

social proof, but unconsciously this is what often happens. A label which communicates the high value of a product, can soften the price pain experienced. This can be considered similar to the equivalent social proof influencing principle. Once again, Cialdini has been proven to be right!

Therefore, using product labels which reflect a professional’s positive opinion on the product, can be considered very valuable.  

Curious what effects your product labels or prices have on your consumer’s price experience? Using our pricing research, we can find out the effectiveness of your communication to your consumers. Besides, this method allows us to determine the optimal price for your product. Using neuro research, we gain knowledge on how consumers will on average respond on the product price. This will provide you with more certainty around your pricing to – in a reasoned way - introduce price changes.

 

Do you also want more insights, certainty and sales with neuromarketing?

Take a look into the brain with Unravel

Let's have a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG and eye tracking to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial.

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Read more: Could Cialdini’s principle of authority be used to soften the perceived feeling of price pain?...

Neuro Usability: Generating a 7% higher conversion rate, this is Pathé’s new blockbuster

Pathé

Neuro Usability: Generating a 7% higher conversion rate, this is Pathé’s new blockbuster

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Tom van Bommel

Responsible for this research

Also interested in Neuromarketing? Contact us:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Take a look at our team

Main question

This is how Pathé realised a great improvement in the online customer journey using neuro research

Can subconscious road blocks be found when tickets are bought online and do these subconscious road blocks influence the emotional customer journey? How can insights from consumer psychology be used to optimize the emotional customer journey?

By investigating the digital customer journey using EEG and Eye tracking Pathé (a cinema brand with over 30 theaters in The Netherlands) was able to get inside the brain of their visitors and evaluate their usability experience.

This eventually led to an increase of 7% in their conversion rates. Also, by analysing the insights gained by neuro usability research, Pathé was able to increase their Click-Through Rate by as much as 72%.

Read on to learn how we achieved this.

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How can subconscious road blocks in a customer journey be uncovered?

Sometimes even the smallest changes can make a great difference. However, it is often hard to find out what makes a visitor leave a website or webshop early on - and which adaptations can overcome this.

This is where neuro usability research comes in handy.

Neuro research gives us the ability to look at these subconscious road blocks, during the online customer journey. EEG makes it possible to identify these stumbling blocks where after they can be successfully tackled

Using EEG together with Eye tracking, we can see where people look and what they experience emotionally at the same time. As a result, we can precisely see what people stumble upon during their shopping trip and why they do so. Using brain measurements we can identify what people experience as difficult, what they do not like or what they are attracted to during their online journey.

Being able to precisely identify these pain points is really important because these are the key points where improvement can be made. By analysing these pain points and using our psychological knowledge we have helped Pathé improve their website and achieve these fantastic results!

Test #1 Shining the light on Pathé All Stars

Our research showed that the Unique Selling points (USP’s) displayed on the Pathé All Stars-page were not fulfilling their role optimally. Using Eye tracking data it could be seen that people did briefly (subconsciously) see the banner with USP’s, but in the interviews later on it was made clear that people did not consciously see and retained this information. Furthermore, many people did not even know that it was possible to sign up for Pathé All Starts.

A missed chance when this banner is subconsciously ignored!

Based on the performed research, our psychological consultants advised to visually emphasize this banner. Together with the online agency Bikkelhart, Pathé tested a new more visual version of the banner. The new version was better aligned with the visual identity of Pathé, which caused visitors to feel like they were in the flow of the customer journey instead of a separate unimportant part/page.

The result? Based on more than 7500 users, it was found that the new version of the banner led to an increase in conversion rate of 7 percent!



Test #2 What spot should I take?

Our research concluded that the selection of seats was experienced as a difficult part of the customer journey. More specifically, the neuro-metric ‘workload’ was above average.

In the following video, you can see the upper line (desire) and the middle line (workload) . The upper line often decreases below zero, and the middle line is often too high:

Based on this insight, Pathé started to design a new, easier way to select your seats on their website. As for now, there is a new seat plan available and different A/B tests are currently being tested to improve this part of the customer journey.



Test #3 An extra choice

Because Unravel carries out a lot of A/B tests in-house (our Unravel Behavior sister company), it often happens that we provide some extra insights during a presentation. From the extensive database consisting of numerous A/B tests which we have conducted ourselves, many ‘Psychological patterns’ turn out to be successful every single time they are implemented. One of these is the ‘Hobsons + 1’.

By providing your potential clients with not 1, but 2 options, we often see that the number of people who choose at least one option significantly increases.

As for this psychological insight, you often see that webshops on their product pages not solely provide the option to put a product in your shopping basket but also the option to put it on your Wishlist.

Pathé tested this insight by displaying not only one but two call to actions on the homepage of different cinemas.

This A/B test was an enormous success as the Click-Through-Rate increased with 72%!

“By using Eye-tracking and EEG we can get unique insights in our customer’s behavior. The research performed by Unravel provided different points of optimization which we can use to make the process of buying tickets online even easier for our customers.”
Stef de Reeder - Online Performance Marketeer Pathé

Do you also want more insights, certainty and sales with neuromarketing?

Take a look into the brain with Unravel

Let's drink a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG and eye tracking to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial.


Our Clients

We mean business with

Read more: Neuro Usability: Generating a 7% higher conversion rate, this is Pathé’s new blockbuster

What is the most sustainable and desirable packaging?

Vitapep

Neuro Packaging test for the most Sustainable and Attractive Packaging

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Tom van Bommel

Eindverantwoordelijke voor dit onderzoek

Bekijk ons hele team

Main Question

What is the sustainability and volume perception of a cardboard versus plastic packaging?

At Unravel Research we love it: sweet peppers as a snack. We could therefore not be happier when Vitapep approached us for a packaging study. The well-known mini sweet pepper grower was curious about the effects of packaging material on the sustainability perception of the consumer.

In their efforts to pack their sweet peppers in a more environmentally friendly way, Vitapep is considering introducing cardboard packaging to replace their current plastic buckets. To make the switch to cardboard as successful as possible, the brand wants to map two things:

  • Is the cardboard packaging indeed associated with sustainability?
  • How does the cardboard packaging affect the volume perception or - freely translated - the feeling of 'value for money'?

Implicit Association Testing (IAT) on sustainability perception

Vitapep wanted to do more than just ask potential buyers to what extent they associate plastic and cardboard with sustainability. This form of traditional research often leads to distorted insights, arising from social desirability on the one hand and the major role of the unconscious regarding our associations on the other.

Unravel therefore turned to the Implicit Association Test (IAT) developed at Harvard. This method is able to quantify unconscious associations on the basis of processing speed in the brain. For example, the more strongly two thoughts are associated (a packaging photo + "Sustainable"), the faster the brain can process these concepts simultaneously.

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How sustainable is cardboard for the brain

In this study, we tested a cardboard packaging versus three plastic variants:

  • A regular plastic bucket
  • A plastic bucket with the imprint “100% recycled plastic”
  • A plastic bag (flowpack in jargon)

The IAT showed that the cardboard buckets are indeed perceived as considerably more sustainable than the plastic variants. A plastic bag is slightly less sustainable, but is still considered more sustainable than a plastic bucket.

Interestingly, recycled plastic is considered less sustainable than a bucket without this label.

Although rationally counterintuitive, this is a well-known phenomenon in consumer psychological literature: when you emphasize that a negative point is not present or to a lesser extent, the consumer is more aware of the existence of this negative property. In this way, a boomerang effect occurs, which means that consumers consider packaging to be even less environmentally friendly.

Does the customer get value for money?

Each type of packaging differed greatly in shape. From the tall and narrow plastic buckets to the low and wide cardboard boxes. This brings up the challenge of volume perception; with which package does the customers feel like they get the most value for money?

To find out, Unravel conducted an estimation experiment. Three groups of 75 respondents each were presented with one type of packaging within a supermarket context, asking "How many grams of Vitapep do you think this package contains?". Because each group estimated a single package, there was no undesirable influence of multiple types of packaging on each other.

Interestingly, the volume is underestimated with the low wide cardboard packaging, while they are underestimated with the tall narrow plastic buckets. This is a well-known phenomenon in perception psychology: height overrules width. High packaging seem to be larger in volume. This research sublimely confirms that: people overestimate both plastic buckets and underestimate the cardboard packaging.

Conclusion

In explicit questioning, consumers indicate that a label with "recycled plastic" indicates to them that this packaging is sustainable. However, our unconscious associations show something completely different. We therefore know that consumers who care about sustainability, do not include this label in their consideration.

A super valuable insight for Vitapep that gives clear recommendations for even better (and sustainable) packaging.

Do you also want more insights, certainty and turnover with neuromarketing?

Dive into the customer's brain with Unravel Research

Let's have a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG, eye tracking and IAT to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial..

Our Clients

We mean business with

Read more: What is the most sustainable and desirable packaging?